Just over 1 year ago now school lunches in our house used to look like the picture on the top. How things have changed! The kids weren't too stoked about it at first and some days they still come home complaining about their lunch, but it is getting easier and I am determined to stick to my guns - this is a battle I WILL win!!
I decided to work out the combined nutritional information in "old vs new" lunches in our house and was a little bit shocked. The old had almost 60g of combined sugar which is equivalent to 13tsp or 1/4 of a cup! Half of this is from the fruit but it is still sugar. I now choose fruit with a lower sugar content and rarely give bananas. The new lunch box has 23g combined sugar = 5 tsp (15g from fruit). The new has 66% less carbs, 50% more protein, is higher in saturated fat and lower in sodium. There is less food but because of the nutritional breakdown, it is just as filling if not more so and it will provide sustained energy - not give energy spikes like the old lunch will.
It is so important to feed kids well in order for them to concentrate in school and have the energy to play at lunchtime and participate in after school activities. Filling them with sugar and carbs is like putting paper on a fire, it will burn fast then go out. Stoke it up with hard-wood and it will burn long and hot. Feed you kids GOOD food - additive free, protein, good fats, veggies, fruit and unrefined carbs. This will fill their bellies, fuel their brains and keep their furnaces burning steadily all day long!
Old Lunch: Fruit yoghurt, potato chips, banana, apple, muesli bar, peanut butter sandwich, afghan.
New Lunch: Kiwifruit, mandarin, hard boiled egg, natural yoghurt with 180Superfood and berries, 180 nut bar, cheese, spelt flour raisin bread with butter and marmite.
This is now a typical day in the life of our kids lunch-boxes. I have found that if they have had a decent breakfast (one with little to no sugar, lots of protein and good fat), they get no where near as hungry at school. I try to fill their lunch boxes with home baking, some sort of meat, veggies, cheese, yoghurt and a bit of fruit. We avoid wheat where we can but I still do baking with Spelt Flour (which is a cousin of wheat, it contains gluten but the protein is more fragile and more easily digested). Spelt is far less refined than wheat and has not had all the "modifications" wheat has undergone over time. I focus on feeding our kids whole-foods - unrefined and as natural as possible. I believe in giving them a range of foods and try to provide them with a balance of veggies, fruit, meats, good fats and unrefined grains. Since this change in diet they are calmer, they concentrate better, eczema has all but gone and they are overall just happier and healthier.
Changing your children's diet can seem like a daunting task at first and it comes with its ups and downs. Sometimes lunchboxes come home hardly touched, after spending hours in preparation this can be a heartbreaking sight. It is hard to compete with Tip Top, Griffins, Cadbury, Bluebird and all the massive corporations that want to control what we feed our kids so they can line their pockets! I believe so strongly in feeding my children good food that I will continue to give them whole-food lunches even when they come home uneaten. It is worth it for their current health and for their capacity to learn now. It is worth it to educate them about where food comes from and to give them the ability make wise food choices now and in the future. It is worth it for their future health, the health of their children and the generations to come. What we eat DOES matter and the sooner we can teach our kids to eat good food the sooner change will happen! "All social change comes from the passion of individuals", be one of those passionate individuals - make a change, this is an investment in your children's future!
Lunch Box Options:
It is a good idea, especially over the summer months, to get a chilli bag for the kids lunch-boxes. This is important if you are going to include meat and yoghurt in their lunch.
- Carrot sticks
- Baby cucumbers cut into chunky rounds
- Cherry tomatoes
- Capsicum sticks
- Good quality gluten free, preservative free cold sausages (if they are large cutting into fingers helps)
- Boiled eggs or curried eggs
- Preservative free Salami sticks (canterbury Biltong Bier Sticks are a good option)
- Leftover cold meatballs
- Natural yoghurt, 180 powder and berries
- Natural yoghurt and berries - maybe a drizzle of raw honey and some Coconutty Crunch
- Cheese sticks - Please do not use processed cheese slices!
- Mini chicken drums
Baking/snack foods - these options are wheat free, sugar free and full of good fats - providing lasting energy and instead of a quick sugar fix.
- Mini muffins and small pieces of slice (see my baking section for ideas)
- Chocolate energy bites (these tend to melt if they get a bit hot)
- 1/4 of a 180 WOD bar (my kids love these)
- Nut bar
- 180Superfood Spelt and Raisin Bread or a seed bread (click here for recipes) spread with peanut butter, almond butter or just lots of butter or other filling they enjoy.
- A little container of Coconutty Crunch
- Pizza Pin Wheels or slices of homemade pizza
- For other ideas see my Ideas For Kids recipe section
- I do baking, cut it into lunchbox sized pieces and freeze it. Each morning I get a piece out and it is fresh and ready to eat by morning tea.
Fruit - try to keep it seasonal and minimal
- A small apple
- Kiwifruit sliced through skin so they can break it and eat with a spoon (you need to remember the spoon!)
- Orange cut almost through into segments
- Banana (I try to limit these, give small ones or 1/2 a banana)
- Berries are great over the summer months
- Plums, peaches, nectarines, chopped pineapple, watermelon, mango - all great summer fruits to include when they are in season.